Vintage Fortune Telling Cards – my birthday gift!

My sweet husband gifted me this antique deck of fortune telling cards for my upcoming birthday! It’s good to have a hubby who really knows you – I’m lucky.

In trying to research them, I found that Milton Bradley first published them in 1908.  Around 1910 in the UK, they were published by Thomas de la Rue & Co Ltd. The original artwork is by the artist Hylton Cock.  The 1908 Milton Bradley deck came in a darker orange box and was titled, “The Wizard Fortune Telling Cards” with cream-colored backs with the inside-the-box directions printed vertically inside instead of horizontally, like this deck of mine. This leads me to believe that this is a later edition. Best guess would be between 1910 – 1915.

The images show various depictions of Victorian (or perhaps Edwardian) life. There are no numbers or playing card references. My deck contains all 33 original cards — 32 illustrated and one left blank to represent the person receiving the reading.  The names of the cards are as follows:

– Love’s labour lost
– A dark lady
– A flirtation
– Success in love
– A wealthy lady
– Business prosperity
– A Lover
– Low spirits
– A journey
– Strange news
– A countryman
– A Gentleman of high degree
– A fair young man
– Gossip
– He cometh not
– A dark man
– A secret transaction
– Destitution
– A love letter
– A designing woman
– Money
– Sickness
– A wedding
– A present
– Treachery
– The House
– A true friend
– A run of luck
– A fair lady
– The law
– A surprise
– A birth
– “blank card”

Gypsy Witch Cards were a Lenormand Spinoff

Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards were an spinoff to Lenormand cards.

If you are a fan of Lenormand cards, you might be surprised to find that you can easily read the cards inside that little orange and black box called The Gypsy Witches deck. It was the Chicago-based company, Frederick J. Drake & Co., that began publishing the Mlle. Le Normand’s Gypsy Witches Fortune Telling Cards back in 1894. It was a 52 card deck that was based on a 48 card interpretation of Lenormand cards by Berlin designer Danner G. Mühlhausen, who had taken the liberty of adding 12 additional cards to the traditional 36-card Lenormand deck. So, by the time the Gypsy Witches Fortune Telling cards hit the market, the number of cards found in a standard Lenormand deck had increased, in total, by 16 cards. This was mainly done to accommodate the playing card associations and, during the redesign, most of the meanings of the cards were changed or switched around. While the cards found a home at many other publishing houses over the years, today, they are printed and distributed by USGames.

But, their origins go even further back than this. If the Gypsy Witch were based on Lenormand cards, then where did Lenormand cards come from? While little is known about them, it is believed that Lenormands were based on Sybilla cards. A French publisher by the name of Grimaud commissioned the French artist Grandville to create the cards known as “Sibylle des Salons” as far back as 1840. Their inspiration was based on Austrian fortune-telling and a combination of cards used there. Lenormand cards weren’t published as “Lenormand cards” until Mll. Marie Lenormand became famous for her accurate fortune-tellings. It was then that they received their proper name as publishers sought to piggyback onto her reputation to make sales.

I recently acquired a 1922 advertisement for the Gypsy Witch’s Fortune Telling cards. You will see that the description mentions there are “53 cards of excellent quality.” This is because the Joker card was also added to the deck back in 1894.

From Sibilla to Lenormand, then on to become the Gypsy Witch cards, this deck has origins going back over 200 years. So, as you can see, this simple little deck you find so inexpensively in new age shops has a long history and probably deserve more respect than they are given. If you decide to read with them, know that you hold a lot of history in your hands.

Sibila cards

How to Apply the Playing Card Suits in Lenormand Readings

Lenormand card readers differ in their opinions about applying the meanings behind the playing card Suits (Clubs, Hearts, Spades, and Diamonds). In a reading with a straightforward question, I rarely pay attention to the Suits and mainly focus on the Lenormand card itself and its meaning. In fact, in one of my early editions of my Good Mojo Lenormand Oracle, I removed the playing card Suits. However, once I realized their importance in digging out more information about what is going on behind the scenes, I added them back and found a new respect for them.

After playing cards found their way into Europe, there were regional variations of the suits, so not all cards were the same. Around the 15th century, the French developed the four Suits that we still use today. When the English adopted these four suits as “standards,” there were still lingering discrepancies in the meaning behind each suit, depending on whether you were speaking to a Frenchman or Englishman. The meaning of the Hearts suit was the same. Clubs, originally called Fleurs in French, are still called Fiori in Italian (both words translate to mean ‘flowers’).

The Suit of Clubs represents money, career, physical activity, and also obstacles that stand in your way.

Hearts are primarily related to love and relationships.

Spades include cards related to communication, travel, and legal matters.

Diamonds are related to luck, danger, decisions, risk, and reward.

How the Suits correspond to Tarot Suits and elements:

  • Clubs/Pentacles/Earth
  • Hearts/Cups/Water
  • Spades/Swords/Air
  • Diamonds/Wands/Fire

Below are the cards found in a Lenormand deck and the playing card associations you’ll find on each card. Many are obvious as to why they are associated with the interpretation of each because the raw energies of their meanings match up. Others aren’t as “in your face” as some, but if you dig deep enough, you should find that can add layers to your reading.

Cross (6♣) = burden, suffering, sacrifice

Mice (7♣) = losses (health and wealth), stress, productivity

Mountain (8♣) = obstacle, inactivity, delay

Fox (9♣) = work, skills, discernment

Bear (10♣) = resources (including money), strength, protection (including mother)

Whip (J♣) = sex, conflict, physical activity

Snake (Q♣) = betrayal, complications, disease

Clouds (K♣) = confusion, uncertainty, discomfort

Ring (A♣) = commitment, partnership, obligations

Hearts/Cups/Water: the heart, love, emotions, and relationships

Stars (6♥) = inspiration, guidance, technology

Tree (7♥) = life, health, gradual development

Moon (8♥) = romance, intuition, recognition

Rider (9♥) = news, arrival, visitor

Dog (10♥) = friend, acquaintance, loyalty

Heart (J♥) = love, affection, generosity

Storks (Q♥) = improvement, relocation, pregnancy

House (K♥) = home, family, safety

Man (A♥) = male person

Spades/Swords/Air: the mind, thoughts, communication, travel, and justice

Tower (6♠) = authority, legal matters, corporation

Letter (7♠) = written communication, document, mail

Garden (8♠) = public, group, outdoors

Anchor (9♠) = stability, perseverance, base

Ship (10♠) = travel, vehicle, distance

Child (J♠) = young person, small size or quantity, student

Bouquet (Q♠) = beauty, pleasure, gift

Lily (K♠) = elders (especially males), maturity, serenity

Woman (A♠) = female person

Diamonds/Wands/Fire: energy, creativity, enterprise, risk, and reward

Clover (6♦) = luck, chance, boost

Birds (7♦) = verbal communication, companionship, negotiations

Key (8♦) = solution, certainty, discovery

Coffin (9♦) = death, depression, bankruptcy

Book (10♦) = knowledge, secrets, research

Scythe (J♦) = decision, danger, separation

Crossroad (Q♦) = choices, diversification, junction

Fish (K♦) = business, transaction, independence

Sun (A♦) = success, vitality, self-confidence